Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Record number of jobs created last year: MOM

THE Singapore economy created a record number of jobs for locals last year, with the number of new jobs created hitting 49,900 — a marked increase over the gain of 14,900 in 2003.

Overall, employment grew by 71,400 jobs, more than recovering the 36,000 positions lost over the preceding three years. Local employment formed the bulk of the growth.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) released these upbeat numbers yesterday in its labour market report for last year.

The service industry led the way, adding 54,700 workers last year, about seven times the number created in 2003.

The manufacturing sector generated 27,200 jobs last year — its strongest annual gain in 16 years — while the construction sector lost fewer jobs than it did in the previous year, as some 9,100 positions were cut, compared with 17,500 in 2003.

Employment of foreigners rose for the first time in four years, increasing by some 21,500 last year, but the foreign share of the job gains remained at 30 per cent.

This is still lower than the 61 per cent seen during the boom period of 1993 to 1997, when the economy created more job spaces than locals alone could fill.

MOM says the share of foreigners in the workforce remains at some 28 per cent at the end of last year, largely unchanged from 2003.

The seasonally-adjusted overall unemployment rate stood at 3.7 per cent last December, significantly lower than the 4.6 per cent figure of a year ago.

Nevertheless, MOM said structural unemployment remained a concern. As of December last year, nearly three in 10 job seekers had been unable to find work for at least 25 weeks.

The ministry said the long-term unemployed made up 1.2 per cent of the resident labour force, well above the early 1990s' average of 0.4 per cent.

For 2005, the ministry still expects new jobs to be created, but at a slower rate due to the projected slower growth of the economy this year. — Channel NewsAsia


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